How Much Income Do Retirees Actually Have? Evaluating the Evidence from Five National Datasets

CRR WP 2018-14

24 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2018

See all articles by Anqi Chen

Anqi Chen

Boston College - Center for Retirement Research

Alicia H. Munnell

Boston College - Center for Retirement Research

Geoffrey Sanzenbacher

Boston College Economics Department

Date Written: November 2018

Abstract

Recent research by Bee and Mitchell (2017) has refocused attention on the fact that the Current Population Survey (CPS) underestimates retirement income. In the wake of this study, some observers have questioned whether other surveys more frequently used by retirement researchers also understate retirement income and, if so, whether prior research suggesting that many households are unprepared for retirement is accurate. This paper addresses both questions by examining retirement income data from the CPS and four other surveys: 1) the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF); 2) the Health and Retirement Study (HRS); 3) the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID); and 4) the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The paper compares the income measures from each survey to administrative data from tax and Social Security records, both in aggregate and across the income distribution. It then uses a common measure of retirement income adequacy, the replacement rate, to assess overall household preparedness for retirement.

Suggested Citation

Chen, Anqi and Munnell, Alicia and Sanzenbacher, Geoffrey, How Much Income Do Retirees Actually Have? Evaluating the Evidence from Five National Datasets (November 2018). CRR WP 2018-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3290751 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3290751

Anqi Chen (Contact Author)

Boston College - Center for Retirement Research ( email )

Boston, MA
United States
6175521762 (Phone)

Alicia Munnell

Boston College - Center for Retirement Research ( email )

Fulton Hall 550
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
617-552-1762 (Phone)

Geoffrey Sanzenbacher

Boston College Economics Department ( email )

United States

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